Just two months after creating a Facebook page, the Galloway Township Police Department has more than 1,400 people following its news feed.
The department sees social media as an effective and cost-effective way to share information with the public, according to Sgt. Donna Higbee, Detective Bureau commander and public information officer.
The tools allow the department to notify the public about power outages, traffic detours, road closings and other emergencies that might affect Galloway Township residents.
A Silver Alert went out on Sept. 6, and the hospital was later able to locate a missing elderly patient. The department's Facebook page posted a map of the MS City to Shore Bike Ride that rolled through the township on Sept. 28, and it allowed residents to plan alternate routes.
At the same time, the public has sent private Facebook messages with tips to investigators working to solve cases.
Other agencies are posting arrest photos and photos of suspects investigators are trying to identify.
Galloway Township's social media sites include:
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/gallowaypd
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/gallowaypd
- Website: http://www.gtpd.org/
The sites are maintained by the township's civilian dispatch supervisor. They are updated as needed during work hours — though he volunteers his own time at home to post information that needs to get out in a timely fashion.
The social media sites "are for the betterment of the community and the police department, so that we can get information out to the public quickly and efficiently," Hiigbee said. "This helps the taxpayers. It does not hinder them."